The Sisters Of Mercy: Shot Rev 2.0

The Sisters Of Mercy - Shot Rev 2.0Synopsis: Shot Rev 2.0 is the original title of this revised collection of videos by The Sisters of Mercy which comprises the videos of the earlier Shot collection together with the following Vision Thing-related videos and the Under the Gun video.

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The Sisters Of Mercy: Shot Rev 2.0 8.5

eyelights: Dominion. This Corrosion. Lucretia.
eyesores: Under the Gun.

“I hear the roar of the big machine
Two worlds and in between
Hot metal and methedrine
I hear your empire down
I hear your empire down”

The Sisters Of Mercy is one of my all-time favourite bands. I discovered them through The Mission, whom I discovered merely because I was pulled by the artwork to their album ‘Carved in Sand’. I later discovered that they were an offshoot of The Sisters, and went out and bought ‘First and Last and Always’, The Sisters’ first full length.

I didn’t know what to make of it at first. It was dark, it had edge, it had a good beat, and Andrew Eldritch’s vocals were like nothing I’d ever heard before – something from deep inside a catacomb. But I felt compelled to listen to the album, trying to wrap my mind around it and, eventually, I understood and became a fan.

No one else I knew had heard of them before, let alone listened to them, so I sought out what little I could on Much Music or in the local record store, Record Runner. Frankly, there wasn’t much. Eventually I picked up their second album, ‘Floodland’, which was entirely different – but I loved every minute of it.

By the time their third and final album, ‘Vision Thing’, came out, I was primed: even though they suddenly sported a hard rock edge, I was fully on board. I listened to that album like crazy and bought every single that came out. Sadly, in my neck of the woods, there was still not much for me to grab beyond those few releases.

Aside from a half-hour ‘Spotlight’ that I taped off of Much Music, there wasn’t much video evidence of the group on hand. This special had a few short interviews, but otherwise consisted of perhaps five videos over the course of a 30-minute programme – one that was severely truncated by the inclusion of commercials.

It’s only much later, with the joys of the internet, that I discovered that many of these videos had been collected on VHS in Europe. It wasn’t available here, of course (The Sisters Of Mercy didn’t have enough of a following on these shores), and I couldn’t order it because it was released in the PAL format, not NTSC. Urgh.

With DVD, however, there are more options available: a good player can play NTSC and PAL format. And so it is that I decided to pick up a bootlegged version of ‘Shot Rev 2.0’ so that I could finally have the videos in my collection and watch them at will. I would prefer an official release, of course, but there are NO official Sisters DVDs out there.

‘Shot Rev 2.0’ is a revised edition of a video collection called ‘Shot’, which was released 1988. This 1992 version bolsters the original four-videos collection with an additional five, for a total runtime of approximately 40  minutes. Some of those videos I had never seen before, so I was extremely anxious to finally watch this.

This collection is a no-frills set with only the videos and no interstitial material aside from the titles. The videos are also presented chronologically, aside for the opening video, which is a remake of a much-earlier song. In some ways, it was fitting because it harks back to their early days and serves as a highlights reel.

(Nota bene: I subjectively rated the songs and videos separately, in the following format: song/video)

1. Temple of Love (1992): Both the 1983 original and this version are some of The Sisters Of Mercy’s best work. This rendition is heavier, has more of a rock edge, and is embellished nicely with additional vocals by Ofra Haza. I adore it.

The video impresses right from the start, what with Haza’s voice and the images of clouds making it almost a religious experience. And, let’s face it: for some of us, it is. The video is a pastiche of stock SOM material with footage of Haza footage and graphics flashed at super speed. It’s frenetic and quite enjoyable, if rudimentary in concept. 8.5/8.0

2. This Corrosion: As featured in ‘The World’s End‘, this song is notable for its AWESOME choir intro, making it an epic Goth track. The song is slightly repetitious, but extremely catchy, and Andrew Eldritch’s vocals are amongst his best: deep and very much like the voice of the dead.

The video is one of their most elaborate: it takes place in a post-Apocalyptic inner-cityscape (think ‘Blade Runner‘ meets ‘Mad Max’). Not much happens, but the dismal, raining setting, combined with Eldritch scampering about in his black leather gear and then-bassist Patricia Morrison dancing in her black vinyl dress and heels look really cool. 8.5/8.0

3. Dominion: The album version of this song is an amalgamation of two tracks, “Dominion” and “Mother Russia”. It’s phenomenal and the single version isn’t nearly as potent (there’s a particularly bad fade out at the end). But it remains amazing, with its thundering beats and anthemic chorus.

For some reason, the video starts with a sax solo. I’m not sure what that’s about, but it works contextually, as it is set in the Middle East and the sax adds a certain exotic flavour to the mix. Strangely, Eldritch and Morrison are dressed in white with black trim (tie, gloves, …etc). He’s wearing a beard, which is unusual for him and given the musical genre. They’re basically wandering about the Middle East, he strikes poses with his cane (a staple of that album’s videos) in temples, and she races a horse with the locals. It’s cryptic, but there’s a story in there somewhere. I’m especially impressed by the scale of the video. How did they get Eldritch at the top of that temple, exactly? 8.5/8.5

4. Lucretia: The album version of this track is longer and is my favourite track of theirs – as well as one of my all-time favourite songs. I ADORE the bass line on this one; it’s simplistic, but infectious!!!

The video is atmospheric, set in a low-lit factory with some workers in the shadows. Eldritch is hanging around, running, riding the elevator. Morrison is on a train and comes to the factory (presumably looking for him). She’s dressed similarly to how she was in “Dominion”, and he is dressed like in “This Corrosion”. There’s not much to it, but it suits the song quite perfectly. And it’s as iconic as the previous two videos. 8.5/8.0

5. 1959: I had no idea that there was a video made for this track! Why, of all things? Any number of songs on the album would have been better than this, as far as singles go, because it’s such a simplistic, repetitive song. But the vocals are pretty good. In fact, this video has made me rediscover the vocals, which, the more I pay attention to, the more I think are terrific. Too bad the music doesn’t hold up.

The video merely takes place in one room (à la “Imagine”), bare-walled, with Morrison (or a stand-in) sleeping at a grand piano while Eldritch is crooning, donning a suit. There are rose petals everywhere and candle light. That’s about it. Nice mood, but a throwaway, really. 6.75/6.0

6. More: The moment that the keyboards kick in, I’m am hooked! I have been ever since 1990, when I first heard it, actually. It’s pretty much a go-to for me: it’s SO catchy, infectious!!!

Of course, this is This Sisters Of Mercy (in yet again a new line-up) in full-on rock star mode! The video is totally suited to this image, with flashing lights, costumed girls , long hair, …etc. This video edit isn’t as great as the album version of the song, because it pretty much halves it, but it’s still decent enough. 8.0/7.0

7. Doctor Jeep: I really like the riff to this song, but it’s repetitious. I suppose that old fans of the band must have been in total shock by this album and new flavour. However, I liked that The Sisters morphed from album to album because it gave me a different SOM for my different moods.

Here, Eldritch is dressed in white, “Dominion”-style. He’s manic, not enigmatic, as he typically is. It’s a studio performance in front of a bunch of TV screens and with couches in the middle of the room (the band is often seen crashed there). Intercut is a bunch of stock footage of international news: mostly politics, religion and war. The video is appropriate, given the subject matter, but somehow it doesn’t really work. 7.5/5.0

8. Detonation Boulevard: This song finds The Sisters in full transition to a hard rock sound, leaving behind the Goth sound entirely. Frankly, I think it’s a highlight of the album, and quite like it.

The video is nothing major: it’s black and white, and it’s a smoke-filled road movie to and through what appears to be Las Vegas. It’s appropriate for the song but neither are exceptional. 7.5/7.5

9. Under the Gun: This was The Sisters Of Mercy’s final single, recorded for their singles compilation ‘A Slight Case of Overbombing’. No matter how often I’ve listened to it, I still can’t dig it. Eldritch basically took a demo that Teri Nunn (or Berlin fame, and who did background vocals for The Sisters) recorded for her solo album and rearranged it with his vocals thrown in. He himself calls the song “Jennifer Rush from Hell”.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen this video. Eldritch and Nunn are naked from the shoulders up (for the record, we never go below the shoulder line), in low light with a few lights flashing on them. That’s it. There’s nothing more. I guess that it’s appropriate for the song, but the song sucks, so the video does too. Maybe if it was another band it might work? But, as a SOM single and video, it’s truly dreadful. 3.5/3.5

Still, all in all, it’s a really nice visual overview of The Sister Of Mercy. It’s incomplete, in that it’s missing the earlier videos for ‘First and Last and Always’ as well as the non-album single “Body and Soul”, but it’s still very good – especially since their most epic videos are featured here (the early ones are only so-so).

Sadly, the bootleg that I picked has extremely poor audio, which sounded super-compressed, rife with squeaky distortion. Its source is clearly the original ‘Shot Rev 2.0’ video, because of the way it’s edited (i.e. it’s not just a compilation of AVI files), but along the way, over the years, the material was processed far too much.

I sure wish that there would someday be an official release of The Sisters Of Mercy’s videos – a complete one, ideally. I’m sure that their labels could agree to put together a package that would include all the videos on one hand, and the ‘Wake‘ live show on the other. In one package, no doubt that fans would grab it.

In fact, I would even support a Kickstarter or Bandcamp campaign. If I knew how to coordinate such a campaign (i.e. being able to contact all the label people, find a remastering company and DVD/Blu-ray authoring company, …etc.), I would be delighted to initiate one. But, as an amateur, I’m in no position to do this.

Maybe someday, someone else will. Every band out there has had their material re-released for DVD. Surely The Sisters Of Mercy, an influential Goth icon that has a rabidly devoted fan-following is deserving of similar treatment. Perhaps their unexpected reappearance in ‘The World’s End’ could spark some interest…?

I dearly hope so.

Date of viewing: January 19, 2014

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